What do you look for in bib shorts? Comfort? Styling? Breathability? If these are your three ‘must-haves’ for set of shorts, and you want the best for your money, then you can't really go wrong with Kalf’s latest Flux bibs.
We were impressed with Kalf's first attempt at a bib short last year and it’s fair to say Evans Cycles' in-house clothing brand has made a handful of small improvements for the 2018 edition.
Our minor qualms with the original shorts included a ‘toasty’ chamois and a leg gripper panel that started to come away after a couple of cycles through the wash. We’re pleased to say that both of these issues appear to have been fixed, with the Flux Print a durable pair of bib shorts both on and off the bike.
At the centre of the shorts is an pad from Italian specialists Elastic Interface, which is made up of two layers of 'X-TRACT' fabric – the top wicks away sweat from the nether regions, channeling it down to the second layer where it is expelled. Away from the marketing gumpf, this translates to pad that will keep you dry regardless of your exertions and, within reason, the temperature (the shorts were tested in a range of conditions in the UK between 5°C and 25°C). Add in plenty of well-placed padding and you’re left with minimal discomfort and chaffing during longer spells in the saddle.
"Our minor qualms with the original shorts included a ‘toasty’ chamois and a leg gripper panel that started to come away after a couple of washes. Both of these issues appear to have been fixed"
The straps of the bib shorts mimic a set of heavy duty braces and cross at the back – Kalf claim this design pulls the fabric of the shorts into the body without pressuring the rider’s neck, and I didn't experience any discomfort in this area through testing.
The lycra – which is made from the latest warp-knitting technology – also provides ample levels of compression, without showing what I’d eaten for breakfast, and didn’t start to lose its shape after a number of washes. The shorts’ end a couple of inches up from the knee, making them a suitable fit for summer riding.
Kalf Flux Print bib shorts
Size tested: M
Colours: Black/bright navy detailing
Like the new Kalf gilet I have also been testing, the bib shorts include some subtle styling details. A reflective ‘K’ sits at the base of the spine and on the left-hand thigh, while the inside of the braces includes a geometric pattern built around Kalf’s signature chevron design. This styling even extends to the leg grippers, which utilises the shape to keep the shorts from riding up your thighs.
There's a lot to like for £84.99 - a bargain when it comes to high quality, comfortable and durable bib shorts. Which begs the question: ‘what’s the catch?’
Well, despite all the positives, the Kalf bib shorts aren’t without their faults. The ‘bonded bridge’ – at which point the straps cross on the back – can become a little uncomfortable on a hot day. I found, when not wearing a base layer, it started sticking to my back, which became mildly irritating on longer rides. Of course, you can solve that by wearing an underlayer, but it's something to consider if you like going without when it's hot.
Also, the cut of the top of the shorts is lower than on others I’ve tested, which could lead to a slightly exposed midriff if the front of your jersey comes up short on your torso, although it wasn’t a major issue for me.
The Kalf Flux Print bib shorts offer great bang for your buck, continuing a trend set by the clothing brand last year. It’s not often we can be so positive about a pair of shorts in this mid-range price bracket but Kalf's designers know what they're doing when it comes to creating a set of bib shorts that belie their competitive price tag. While we have a couple of small niggles, if you are looking for bib shorts under £100, these are going to be tough to beat.
Good moisture wicking
Durable after multiple washes
Great value for money
Bonded bridge can be uncomfortable on warm days without a base layer
Slightly low cut at the front